By Rob Kiser
Piqua athletic director Chip Hare and Sidney athletic director Mitch Hoying couldn’t have asked for much more to kick off the Piqua-Sidney All-Sports competition, being held for the first time this year.
And given last year’s results, there probably couldn’t have been a better sport to start with.
After defeating Sidney in five sets twice last season, Piqua did the same Tuesday night in the Sidney High School gymnasium, putting the first half-point on the board in the All-Sports competition.
The two teams fired shots and momentum changes back-and-forth for two hours of high quality volleyball before the Lady Indians outlasted the Yellow Jackets 22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 16-25, 15-6.
Piqua improved to 3-1 overall in and 2-1 in GWOC American play, while Sidney dropped to 0-5 and 0-3.
“This is three times in row (winning in five sets),” Piqua coach Liana Michael said. “And in all three matches, we were the underdogs. I think sometimes, people are so focused on the rivalry with Troy, they forget about the rivalry with Sidney. The coaches know each other, the players play together in JO and I think this new competition just adds something to it.”
And while Tylah Yeomans was a force at the net for Piqua from the start, it was the Indians balance and depth that would lead to their success.
“Four of our first seven points were on blocks by Tylah (Yeomans),” Michael said. “She had been up-and-down the first couple matches, but I thought she came up big tonight.”
And Haley Michael would put the finishing touch on the match, accounting for Piqua final three points in the fifth set on kills. That and a kill by a Navie Garber took Piqua from a 11-5 edge to finish off the match.
“Three big kills,” Liana Michael said about Haley Michael. “She had some struggles on defense, but she more than made up for it with the kills at the end.”
While Yeomans and Michael combined for 30 kills and six blocks, it was a team effort.
Garber and Savannah Hulme, along with right side Taylor Cavender came up with big kills as setter Lauren Williams kept the Sidney defense guessing. Kelsey Magoteaux had another big night on defense, with 31 digs, while Williams dished out 33 assists.
And the defense, with help from Kelsey Peters and Kami and Kylie Trissel was solid.
“Navie (Garber) and Savannah (Hulme) had both played middle before,” Michael said. “I thought they did alright the first couple matches, but I thought they were really on tonight.”
Despite a fast start and leading 18-16, Piqua dropped the first set 25-22.
Piqua then won the next two sets.
In the second set, Piqua broke a 17-17 tie with two aces by Yeomans.
Michael had a kill and Hulme added a block and a kill to help finish off a 25-21 win.
In the third set, Piqua jumped out to a 12-3 lead, only to see Sidney cut the deficit to 14-13.
Michael and Hulme had kills as Piqua opened an 18-14 lead and kills by Garber and Micheal finished it off 25-19.
Just when it seemed as Piqua had the momentum, Sidney libero Payton Boshears served the first 10 points of the fourth set and Sidney rode that to a 25-16 win to force a fifth and deciding set.
“I don’t know what happened there and I don’t think my team does either,” Michael said. “I don’t think we were expecting her to get her first serve and then once she did, we just didn’t respond.”
But, it was all Piqua in fifth set.
After Sidney opened a 2-0 lead, Michael had a kill for sideout and Piqua outscored Sidney 15-4 the rest of the way.
“We didn’t want to be the reason we don’t win the (All-Sports) trophy,” Michael said. “We wanted to get that first half point.”
Yeomans had 19 kills, four blocks and four aces; while Michael had 11 kills, two blocks and four aces.
Hulme had three blocks, while Cavender had two.
Piqua will host Greenville Thursday, with another match with Sidney looming later this season.
“We know they are going to be coming to our place and they are going to be ready to play,” Michael said.
And if history says anything, it will be another two-hour marathon as Piqua attempts to make that half-point a full one.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.